Saturday, December 25, 2010

The Reason for the Season

Every time I drive by Quincy Tow at this time of year, the following occurs to me: The reason for the season is the 23.5-degree tilt of Earth's axis from perpendicular to the plane of its orbit. The shortest day of the year [winter solstice in the northern hemisphere] was Dec. 21. The big event occurred around 11:38 p.m. GMT. Our day was 9 hours and 20 minutes long on Dec. 21. Tomorrow, Dec. 26, the day will last 9 hours and 21 minutes. Yippee! The days are getting longer. Can't you feel it? Eat, drink, and be merry, for, before you know it, flowers will be blooming again. And beautiful bugs will be crawling on them.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Is it procrastination to try to write a poem rather than writing more scenes for my novel? I wrote this after reading an article by Tony Judt on Mike's recommendation. Not sure it makes any sense. Must poetry make sense? M-L


For Mike

My sun-faded, slightly raveled swing
As I stirred my probiotic
Witch’s brew.
So I gathered up
Food for my gut
And mind,
Folding the NYR of Books
Next to my bowl and steaming cup of tea
And carried my tray
To settle down in the vague mid-morning warmth and clouded light
To chew on words, thoughts, and a stew of herbs.

Leafing through the well-thumbed newsprint pages
I quickly glanced over reviews
And settled on this eulogy,
Of sorts,
For Tony Judt.

Unwittingly I rocked
back and forth,
In my well-worn backyard swing.
In my overgrown old, old tangled garden
Left behind by former tenants,
And gobbled up the well tended words
Of Tony Judt
Left behind for greedy readers like me,
Unable to tend our own gardens,
Left behind like a scraggly regret
That still revives each spring.
Persistent life that nature provokes on all of us.

I rocked and read.
My mind kindled by his critiques
Of old, old contradictions
Capturing thoughtless minds
“Writing for the desk drawer…”
Wrote Judt,
For me to read,
Not locking up his thoughts.
Protesting “the captive mind.”
How do lulled minds, untrained to reconcile
Conflicted ideas,
Reside amidst the conflict
Unaware of our divided selves?

I rocked amidst my untended garden
Whilst nature randomly reclaimed it.
Hearing the chattering,
Sometimes raucous caws
Of birds small and large,
Feeling the sun’s warmth
Fingering my neck
As clouds scuttered away,
And kept on reading
Trying to digest
Judt’s sharp-edged words and thoughts
About our contradiction
That freedom lives
In a free marketplace.

How do we reconcile
The random life of Nature
With a carefully structured free market?
A crafted illusion
Of randomness
Leading to the common good?
But thinking, questioning minds
Can tease out tangled threads
Reweaving pleasing patterns.
Yet, tapestries take time.
Instant gratifiers have no time for delays.

Sated by Judt’s words
My eyes blurred over his printed page,
Gazed aimlessly from
The unruly maple shading me
Sprung from seeds
Strewn long ago by
The cut down broad trunked tree
Whose stump
Tables our rusted barbeque and tongs,
To gaze along our patio’s cracked cement
Envisioning a cedar deck.

Peripherally a troubling motion
Captures my wandering eyes.
A hopping tiny insect,
Squat armored body
Jump, jumping across the cracked cement,
Moving towards me.

A termite?

Without a thought
I spring to answer my question.
One carefully aimed Dansko clog
Stomps out the life of it.
An oily splotch among the pebbled cement.
From how far away
Had it hopped?
It’s effort wasted.
By what?
My fleeting idea
Of my unconstructed deck?
The idea of it?

The heel of my clog
Like the heavy booted ancien regimes
Crushed it
In its possible path
To the slumbering peony beds
Where its strong legs
Might have stirred the earth,
Might have, in his random route, tended the soil
Packed dry and tight around a fallow peony bulb
And loosened it to bloom next spring.

By Mary-Louise Ruth

Thursday, October 7, 2010

For Harold Thud

Here's another 1,000 words for Harold Thud, bringing a little color to a fellow who spends most mornings in a fog - not necessarily referring to his state of mind - and misses our season of upstaging New England's fall colors. Every few days I photograph a few leaves of this beautiful oak in front of Papa's Donuts. I figure that my close association with this magnificent tree might have health benefits similar to anti-oxidants. Harold, what if I send you a few acorns from this tree, and you could plant them in front of your favorite pub.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Trish Taylor reading at FRC

Author Trish Taylor/September 23rd
Trish Taylor Will be reading and discussing her book Take It, It's Yours on Thursday in Science Rm 104 from 2-3 pm

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Ariana Huffington's Third World America Tour

We made it as a finalist for Ariana to come do a speaking engagement at the college. Please cast your vote for FRC to be on her stop!

Monday, August 30, 2010

A Whitefly Waste

Tonight, in the garden, the air is moist.

Tiny whiteflies have been roused by the sprinkler

from their egg-laying orgies on the undersides

of the tomato plants’ fuzzy leaves.

On occasion, I have felt the whiteflies

get lost in my ear, or consumed by my breath.

They are smaller than aphids,

and sprightly like gnats.

Considered by science an agricultural blight,

they will be losing their colony in my tomato plants tomorrow.

The paper ran an article advising homeowners:

Remove all plants where the whitefly is found swarming.

The problem for the farmers is the growth stage

from egg to larvae,

which occurs on the underside of leaves,

and interrupts the photosynthesis

and respiration of the plant.

Reduction in the leaf function

causes the fruit of the plant

to be mal-nourished, resulting

in a paling and veininess

in the surface of the fruit.

My tomatoes have these symptoms.

Thanks to the wise media report,

I know why my tomatoes have blemishes

and I know what to do about it.

I am to tear out all of the tomato plants.

I will put them all into the yard waste bin.

The waste management people will come

and empty the yard waste bin

into the huge green recycling truck.

Then my tomatoes won’t have any more blemishes,

And I will have no more tomatoes.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Bit of a Dismal Emancipation

So, I'll give Joe a bit of a break and post my own update. This blog may soon become my only link to this group - I'm leaving for college very soon and I won't be able to make many more of the in-person meetings. Therefore, I may actually post some things in the future.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Where Are They?

The summer of 2010 has been great for photographing milkweeds. I've managed to add to my archives of all five types that are common around here. However, one of the delights of photographing milkweeds, for me, has been finding the great variety of beautiful insects they attract. My favorite is probably the Red Milkweed Beetle, which I photographed often during the summer of 2009. For reasons unknown, I have only seen one this summer, and I didn't get a very good picture of it. So, for nostalgic enjoyment, I'm posting one from last summer.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Writers Blog Abhors a Vacuum

We can't let a whole month go by, can we? Continuing the theme of my previous post, let me invite you to check out my blog, especially go back to July 29 and read forward. I write about the aesthetic sense and evolution, among other things. As I continue to try to develop as a writer/artist/photographer, I am intrigued by how our sense of beautiful/ugly, smart/dumb, safe/dangerous varies so greatly and whether studying evolution sheds any light on the emergence of an aesthetic sense. Did natural selection favor the development of aesthetics, or is it an accidental by-product of some other trait(s) that was(were) selected for? One could (and should) ask the same question about religion.
So, I have saved us from going a whole month without any action on this blog!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

They Say It Pays to Advertise

Hi all: Fun chat this afternoon in the alley. It's been 16 days since anything's been posted here. Is that a record? I guess I'll break the ice again. If you're anxious to see what a member is up to, check out blackoaknaturalist. I've made 10 posts since June 20 with lots of pictures. Oakland Camp, where I'm working this summer, is incredibly rich biologically. We've found over 100 species of wildflowers plus rattlesnakes, racers, ring-neck snakes, and mountain king snakes. Found some orchids that no-one recalls anyone at camp seeing since it was founded 85 years ago.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


It is crisp and clear outside and the tables inside the Alley Cat are flooded with sunlight. She sits there, rail thin and not quite recovered from her arrival, hugging her over-sized mug of tea, a tempest tossed survivor clinging to the wreckage of a greater hearth and home. Casually well dressed in splashes of americana, pleats and creases saw-whet sharp and hinting at the tightly wrapped rubber bands that hum beneath her pale skin.

Her life is laid out before her with clockwork precision. Tea just so. Un-needed accoutrements clustered at the table’s edge at two o’clock. Notebook and fine line pen within reach and ready to bolster her already unassailable view of life. The center of the table, the seconds, minutes and hours of that clock are thwarted in their escape by a large, gilt-edged and well thumbed bible; an anchor given by family or friend to stay the drifting of her tiny dory on the active seas of curiosity. Her place is marked by a photo of her young man in his Sunday best, beaming at her in earnest, unaware, perhaps, that he is holding court deep within the book of Revelations.

Left hand skimming across the pages while her right takes copious notes, her face wears the serenity of one who knows their destination and what awaits them at journey’s end. Placid. Dispassionate. Youthful. A wrecking ball without tether. A toddler clutching a chrome plated revolver with its hammer resting on a chambered round.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


Using the logic below, and carrying it to the extreme, since each of those words had previously been used, both separately and conjoined, in any number of instances in the last dozens of decades, can we truly call even Ms. Stein's original and original?

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Math Meets Gertrude Stein, et al

We all know jokes about 1,000 monkeys and 1,000 typewriters. I don't think they could match the Bard, because there's something going on there besides permutations of available vocabulary. Shakespeare is especially impressive when you realize his vocabulary was probably smaller than today's average high school graduate. But, boy, could he use those words! Now, as for the phrase of last week, there are 10 words. That means there are 10! (ten factorial) possible arrangements. That's 3,628,800. Could any of them besides the original be considered creative? Just wondering.

Thursday, May 27, 2010


Should a sequence of pleasures be anything but? Why words?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Gertrude Stein said

"Why should a sequence of words be anything but a pleasure."

How many different ways could we write this sentence?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010


It was a Tuesday, along about 11 o’clock in the morning, and it was one of those iffy, Quincy, mid-winter days where it can’t decide if it’s raining or snowing or turning off nice.

I was in SavMor, comin’ around the corner by the ready cooked, chicken-in-a- bag stand, clutching my package of lil’ smokeys and a bag of frozen tater tots and I looked up and stopped dead in my tracks. There he was. It was him. Elvis. The King himself, I could not believe my peepers, but he appeared to be checking groceries at register 4.

Of course I was mistaken.

In reality he was in the shopper’s line and simply facing the other way for a moment. Clutching my meager purchases I hustled my butt over to the line at number 4 as he was watching the checker ring up his few items. There was a young mother ahead of me with a shopping cart piled high with diapers and generic cola. I would be forever behind her. But the rock & roll gods were smiling on me that day and, as I skidded to a stop just short of her Capri slacks, she suddenly remembered that she needed HoHo’s or Bisquick or something and swung her cart hard to the right and out of line. I sidled up to him as he was rustling through a handful of bills and coins and, in a voice that belied my knowledge that I was, indeed, in the presence of royalty, said softly, “Man, I love your stuff.”

I give him credit for not reacting. His eyes darted my way with a flash of horror and disgust but his composure was rock steady. He stared hard at the teenage cashier, willing her to put on the hustle, and already had his groceries bagged when she meticulously counted back his change. Turning my way he said, “You got the wrong guy I think. I gotta go.” My 15 minutes of fame was evaporating before my very eyes and so I blurted out the first thing that came to mind… “Can I buy you a drink?” I don’t know if he was expecting an autograph request or a demand for the opening bars of Heartbreak Hotel but my offer stopped him down by the paper bags. He looked my way again and, shrugging his shoulders and muttered, “What the hell, why not. You got wheels?”

It’s no pink, ’58 Caddy convertible, but we climbed into my trusty Subaru and with a short pull over Cemetery Hill we were sitting in Plumies, down at the far end, beneath the white plastic bucket hanging under the ceiling leak. It was early, the bar was dark, the bartender was bored and behind on prep so getting our drinks was uneventful… gin & tonic for me and a tequila driver for the King.

“Used to be I couldn’t buy bananas and peanut butter at the same time without some doublewide hausfrau putting two and two together and screaming, ‘Oh my God! It’s him, it’s him!’ and starting a chain reaction that cost me another studio apartment deposit in another town.” He sighed and took a long swallow of his drink. “Nowdays, not so much. I keep my nose clean and my hat down low and stay away from geriatric class reunions and my time is pretty much my own.”

“But” I said, “I spotted you right off.”

He gave a terse nod, “Oh sure, that happens now and again but it’s mostly near a Grateful Dead concert and it doesn’t take much to convince them it’s just a flashback or some bad pill combo… I gotta admit that sightings like yours are few and far between, thank god.”

A stiff pull on his drink and he elbowed me gently. “Hell, when was the last time you saw my name in the tabloids? They don’t even mention Michael Jackson anymore.”

Now there was an opening I simply could not ignore. “Um, yeah, Michael Jackson. How did you feel about him marrying your daughter?” Elvis sighed and dropped his shoulders a bit, “Ah, the poor bastard… who else was he gonna marry? All that hype eating him alive… at least Lisa Marie grew up in the life and knew what he was caught up in.” Elvis shook his head slowly from side to side and made a face. “So much talent and so much trouble.” He swiveled his head my way and grinned, “Maybe he pulled the same stunt that I did…”

It made me wonder, but I was here to talk about Elvis. “You ever miss the life?” I asked. “What are you doing with your time these days?” He caught the bartender’s eye and signaled for another round, “Oh, I’m driving truck again and writing a little bit… new stuff… kinda memphis reggae with sort of gospel toned ballad vocals. I’m just too old and fat to be swiveling and gyrating anymore and there is simply no way to stay out of the papers with a celebrity hip replacement surgery. Of course it’s pointless because I can never perform without getting sucked back in.” He paused for a breath, laughed a soft, deep-felt laugh and slapped me on the back, “Ah, hell, I’m as happy as I’ve ever been since my mother passed… don’t you worry about ol’ Elvis Aaron son.” With that he polished off his drink, slid off the stool and headed for the door. He never looked back, just gave a casual wave over his shoulder, pushed open the door and hung a left towards East Quincy.

Elvis had left the building.

Saturday, May 15, 2010


Joe, Wow! Wow! Zowee! Not sure how else to express the impact of your photos on me! What gorgeous, stunning colors and such intense details. How do you hone in so acutely on the tiny world of insects? What a camera you must have but, more importantly, what an eye you have! No wonder you could spend your life poking around the environs of Plumas county discovering and revealing worlds that most of us would never see without your photos! I loved the green, green larvae (caterpillar?) that leapt off the wall. The colors and details are painterly.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Writing Workshops in Quincy This Fall

Hi, Thought I better post this before I wind up posting the day before the deadline. I'm having a great time finishing up everyone's final notes/pages to me. But here it goes----this might be one of my only jobs in the exciting would that be?

1) Advanced Writing Workshop. After a successful Advanced Writing Workshop in the spring of 2010, Margaret Garcia-Couoh is offering the workshop again in the Fall. This workshop is meant for any writer working on a long term project who needs motivation and a small community and one on one technical and inspirational assistance to get that project completed. Writing a novel? Turning a thesis into a memoir? Want to try writing that non-fiction book you meant to do? We begin September 20th and go through to the end of the year. We meet once or twice a month as a community of writers and then one on one with me once every two weeks. Weekly deadlines to keep you moving along. Cost is $250 per person for the four month session. To apply for the workshop please email Margaret Garcia @ with a sample of your work and an outline of the project you wish to work on during the session. Deadline to apply is July 31st.

2) Intermediate Creative Writing Workshop. This workshop is for people who want to write but haven't in awhile or don't know where to begin. Maybe you've written a story or a book of poems and can't quite figure out what is holding them back. Or maybe you just want someone to give you plenty of prompts and space to be creative in! Focus is on short story, short memoir, blogging, and poetry.We begin this workshop September 15th and go to December 1st. We will meet monthly as a group, meet online as many times as you want and one on one every month as well. Cost is $150 per person.To apply for the workshop please email Margaret Garcia @ with a sample of your writing and a paragraph indicating where you are with your writing and what you want your focus to be. Deadline to apply is July 31st.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


A broken record
Of interruptions
Sets mothers into a groove
Of repetitions.
No flow. No finish.
Always beginning again.

A captured moment
While the baby sleeps
To coddle a steaming
Cup of tea,
Feel the warmth
And watch
Curling wafts of heat
In the kitchen's cool air.

Even in absentmindedness
Breaks the spell.

The baby's cries,
The clattering cup,
Dispels the quiet.

And lifting the blanket
Uncovering the life
Demanding care,
Life curled into a bundle
Weighted less than a full teapot,
Warm breaths
In the air,
She takes that warmth
Into her arms
Forgets the cup of tea
Cooling in the cup,
Attends to the long life
Beginning in her warm embrace.

(Written Mother's Day 2010
after reading BLUEBIRD by Ariel Gore)

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

site revamped!

I am slowly adding to it but it's what I have for now.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Poems 4/9-21

As subtle as
Sweet, licorice tea
As coarse as
Hard-boiled coffee
Their flavors
Never to blend

The sibling cats
As different
From one another
As my own sister and I
One aloof and sleek
The other warm and wild-haired
I leave tufts of my coat
She glides through
Without anyone
She’d been there

March winds have carried into April
They warm me
Cool me
Infuriate me
Put me to sleep
And keep me awake
They send fine grit
Through the cabin walls
March winds have carried into April

Some days the sun
Doesn’t come out
Until 6 pm
Hope is a thin, silver thread

Sweet scent of lilacs
Bush heavy with blossoms
Spring’s breath is my breath

In the mirror
She saw
Remnants of lovers long gone
Gold hoop earrings
From the sultry Spaniard
White seed pearls
From the sensible German
Delicate silver bangles
From the soulful Frenchman
Bonds never truly broken

Morning pages
Morning papers
Morning thoughts
Morning recalls
Morning discards
Morning blessings
Morning moments
Morning musings
Morning mournings

Confectioners say
Never refrigerate
Or it will weep
I can only wonder
What in the world
Has to cry about

Mallard skimming
Over cold pond water
Flapping wings
Arched body
Gliding to a halt
The morning

Christmas cactus
Blooming in April
Pale orange buds
That burst forth
While I sleep
I offer to share
My breakfast
A sip of cool water
You ask no more

Like the dancing Shiva
Lord of destruction
Lord of rebirth
I point my many limbs
This way and that
Surrounded by
A ring of fire
I am purified

Light across the sky
Spring storm moving in
It thunders
It jolts
It saturates
It unnerves
I acquiesce

I sat so long
In the library
I didn’t realize
It was snowing again
Minute flakes
That melted when
They hit the ground
A brief existence

Too Late, but Not Quite....

Thanks for that kind review Harold, but I took the show down at noon today, an hour before your review appeared. However, I'll have three pieces in the forthcoming group show at the Main Street Artists gallery. Come on by during Artists' Walk next Friday. Joe


If a picture is worth a thousand words then Joe has an exquisite 12,000 word essay hanging in the gallery upstairs at the Plumas County Museum. You oughta check it out... it's a great view of the world around us.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Interesting article on the reading of fiction

Monday, April 26, 2010


Buddy awoke on New Year’s Day, crammed onto a too short living room sofa, clad only in his boxers and one sock. Oh Lord what a gathering last night. The first day of 2020 and he had a hangover that could stun and ox. His mouth tasted of ferrous metals and, behind their closed lids, his eyes were thick with smoke. Real or imagined his ears broadcast the sound of a dozen working garbage trucks backing up in a chorus of diesel rumblings and harsh clamorous bells. One arm, trapped beneath him, was completely asleep and he had a nasty and painful bruise ripening below his left knee.

To top it all off he slowly became aware of a steady, rhythmic knocking on his front screen door. Shit. Even in his compromised state he could recognize that knock. Steady and insistent, never loud nor demanding, it was the clarion call of missionaries. Windsorites of The Ned Ludd Society for Less Change were on the prowl in his neighborhood. Their scourge would not abate until they were able to meet everyone eye to eye, paste on a happy face smile and intone their mantra, “Hello, would you like to know more about the simpler life?”

They had been gaining a foothold in America since Dwight, the great grandson of H. H. Windsor, had his skewed epiphany in the spring of 2018 and began spouting rhetoric of doom and gloom, railing against everything from Facebook to GPS systems. When his revelation came to fruition, an angel of indeterminate gender and origins appeared at the foot of his bed and began a lengthy, rambling discourse on the evils of the information highway. The world, it insisted, was headed to hell in a cyber-driven hand basket and, starting with Pong and Donkey Kong, had been swirling the drain, speeding up incrementally with every faster download and smaller, more powerful micro processor. No, the revelator was not an actual Luddite, the world needed zippers and landlines and the internal combustion engine with its original attendant technologies. That being said, however, nobody needed googling nor texting and to that end it was incumbent upon Dwight to call to the nation and bring the sheep back to a fold created from a pastiche of the Eisenhower years. This celestial being had chosen Dwight to be the messenger simply because he was, indeed, the great grandson of H. H. Windsor, founder and architect of Popular Mechanics magazine. What better rock upon which to build this church than that bastion of DIY readership where plenty did abound but existed on a more humanity based scale? Sure people needed an oven that could cook dinner in 75 seconds but let’s keep it the size of a two door refrigerator. (Return with us now to those days of yesteryear when America was at its zenith and lesser countries gave way to our every whim…)

At first, still a grass roots, rumor driven shadow of a religion, congregants gathered in solidarity in the small, one car garages that dotted every state. The future had blessed us with a surfeit of massive SUV’s much too big to fit inside anything smaller than a blimp hanger and, as a consequence, nearly every house built before 1960 had a small, mostly ignored building at the end of two parallel ribbons of concrete, snugged up against the back property line. Cleansed of their lawnmowers, garden hoses, tangles of outdoor Christmas lights and other detritus, these architectural bastard children were both corporeally and metaphorically perfect sanctuaries for the novitiate to take the eternal step backwards. Most were already blessed with a homegrown workbench along the back wall and these quickly supported shrines to the new deity. They started with a homemade collapsible rowboat or a one-man, plywood commuter helicopter or some manner of low-tech delight made from mail order blueprints (just 50¢ and self-addressed, stamped envelope). Around these, supplicants would pile the physical manifestations of their memories; rotary dial phones, typewriters festooned with ribbons, mimeograph machines and sea monkeys.

Later, after groundswell enthusiasm populated their ranks, factions chose a more militant pathway home and these back-of-the-garage reliquaries were fronted by galvanized tubs filled with broken laptops or cell phones that had been scoured clean by the holy fires of a hand held propane torch. It didn’t take long for these tokens to be insufficient to the needs of those most fervent converts and by the holiday season of that first year the Twitter Wars had begun in earnest with small bands of low tech guerrilla fighters attacking the soft underbelly of Silicon Valley and its many adherents.

Taking the term “bricks & mortar” to heart, there wasn’t an iMac outlet or Verizon office across the land with storefront windows intact and anyone foolish enough to talk in public on a cell phone had to be ever vigilant lest their phone be snatch from them, dropped unceremoniously into a paper Starbucks cup filled with glue and thrust back into unwilling hands.

Bound by their credo, the Windsorites were disinclined to fight fire with fire by creating viruses or logging on en masse to crash popular websites. They chose, instead, to dynamite cell phone relay towers and jumper electrical wires to send massive power surges through offices filled with computer terminals. Invoking Popular Mechanics original masthead as a battle cry, tens of thousands stormed Hewlett Packard’s corporate headquarters lustily shouting, “Yesterday’s Tomorrow Today!” as they tossed equipment out windows, torched filing cabinet contents and flushed cherry bombs down the executive toilets.

Eventually the civil disobedience turned to real violence and in the early days of 2019 angry cyber-DINKS and a computer based mobilization of the military quashed the more belligerent facets of the movement. This did nothing to abate the faith of the followers and they simply chose a new tack into this new wind and began proselytizing with a vengeance.

With this new wave of disciples and their accompanying wealth came the ability to build a massive church glorious enough to pay tribute to belief and believer alike. Grand in scale, its reflective glass walls shimmered in the southern California sunlight. It was, in fact, a colossal crystal carport where literally thousands of pilgrims could sit in contoured plastic chairs and listen as Father Dwight ranted and called down plagues upon the techo-phillistines from his pulpit constructed from the only existing prototype of the 1967 Hiller Aerial Sedan while, behind him, the choir gave voice from naugahyde bench seats in a semi-circle of Edsel convertibles. Ushers motored up and down massive aisles in two-toned, pastel Nash Metropolitans while the faithful showered the back seats with coin of the realm. Every nickel and every convert fed the church and its fetal body politic while word spread throughout the church to watch for a Windsorite candidate coming soon to an election near you. The odd county supervisor here, the occasional judicial appointment there and before you knew it the faithful held sway in congressional committees and belief became legislation. Laws were bandied about limiting everything from planned software obsolescence to processor speeds, crippling the giants of the industry and destroying the economies of several third world countries.

Like loaves and fishes, these successes only served to feed the masses and increase a thousand fold the number of knuckles rapping so fervently on doors across the land and rousing Buddy from his somewhat dehydrated slumbers. He finally accepted the fact that they were not going to go away and, as he shuffled across the living room, pausing to kick off his one sock, he wondered if the believers on the other side of his door would appreciate the fact that the shotgun in his left hand was manufactured in 1939.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Red Canyons

I took the poem a day challenge


I inadvertently posted my first week of poems as a comment to Hannah's haiku. What can I say? I am techno-challenged. Now that I found them and remembered my password, I am sharing them with all. (I think.) More to come once I get them typed up. Happy Spring from the red canyons of Utah. See photo in separate message. (I think.)

Heavy, wet snow
Gray sky broken
by a row of crow
Teasing us toward spring
Warmer days just beyond reach

Earth absorbing water
as does the suede of my boots
Silly, fashionable suede boots
Impractical as I
this time of year

So who the fool
you or I
Out of the mountains
across the desert
to a home unknown
I am as unsettled
as the dust devil dancing
in the distance

Settling in
Familiar items around me
I find comfort in
a soft blue quilt
Home is where the heart is
Home is where the hearth is
Home is where the head is

Grit in her teeth
Wind in her ears
Horizon before her eyes
Mind a blank on which
nothing can be written
They come
They go
She stays
Lonely, but not alone
Here in the endless desert
A whore in Rawhide, Nevada

Awakened by the sound
of a German cuckoo clock
on the hour and the half
sleep wake
sleep wake
My dream had me
down a slick rock face
from ridge to water below
cuckoo cuckoo

A day behind
A day ahead
My calendar has a mind
of its own
It's all relative
We are all relatives
Tick tock
My biological clock
ticks toward death

A poem a day
keeps the blues away
helps you survive the fray
makes the sky lay
over you like a valet
eager to assist in play
the game life's way

The South American
made a kite
from tissue paper
and twigs so slight
He added a tail
and let it sail

Monday, April 19, 2010

What She Doesn't Say

She used to tell me things
Happily sometimes,
Sometimes not
Scenes from her personal landscape

I would marvel at her absolute delight
Watching her mouth and eyes dance
The sounds in her words rising and falling
Like shadows on the wall
Never failed to enclose me

But after that night I took her to the cafe
To listen to the cellist
Tell his sad stories with a reedy moan,
To the unsyncopated rain,

Her voice has gone

She has taken to leaving me scribbled clues
Of her inescapable musings
On random shreds of paper

And has me clinging
As I search for an embrace
In what she doesn't say

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Near-by Moon

Stardust, fallen and mixed into a chemical muck in shallow, saline seas, electrified up into beings. Pop. There we are, wet and responsive, kept quick by a star’s daily light, slumbered by its reflection off the near-by moon.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Coming Out Too

Hi Quincy Writers,
I started a new blog that's (I hope) going to help me organize my thoughts for the book I'm writing.
Sorry, just couldn't write a poem to express my rage & disgust at the southern governors promulgating April as THE COMMEMORATION OF THE CIVIL WAR, even though April really is POETRY MONTH! So here's my brief essay in which I'm attempting to "hoist them by their own petards". Hope it works. Hope to get comments.

Never have I ever read a more persuasive justification of economic reparations for slavery than as stated in the state of Mississippi's declaration of secession before the Civil War quoted in the news article written by Emily Wagster Pettus of the Associated Press and published today in the S.F. Chronicle (4/13/10). The Mississippi declaration of secession states:

"Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery. … Its labor supplies the product, which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth. These products are peculiar to the climate verging on the tropical regions, and by an imperious law of nature, none but the black race can bear exposure to the tropical sun. These products have become necessities of the world, and a blow at slavery is a blow at commerce and civilization."

Stating that the unpaid labor of slaves supplies the necessities of commerce and civilization is a clear admission that the economic welfare of the state of Mississippi (and all other states profiting from slavery) was based on the unpaid labor of slaves. It also clearly implies that the vast profits of plantation owners, based on their exploitation of the unpaid labor of slave workers, was the economic and political foundation of these states.

There would have been no reason to secede from the United States of America if plantation owners had been willing to pay wages to their workers. The abolition of slavery would not logically have led to the destruction of the plantation system if plantation owners had agreed to pay wages to their workers in which case the plantation system could have survived based on a more equitable distribution of the wealth produced by such a system.

However, the point of slavery is NOT to pay wages, even to that particular group of workers who "by an imperious law of nature" are uniquely suited for such labor. So, plantation owners could never have accrued such exhorbitant profits by paying wages to those black workers who alone "can bear exposure to the tropical sun", instead the owners' vast wealth was based on the oppressive exploitation of the "unique" labor power of the black race by enforced slavery. In other words, plantation owners bought their workers rather than hire workers. Plantation owners bought human beings stolen from their homelands, a practice legally sanctioned by slave states, to create their own individual wealth and the wealth of the slave states. In my opinion, Mississippi's declaration of secession makes a persuasive case that compensation wages are long overdue.

Monday, April 12, 2010

More in the way of junk haikus...

On Formatting:

MLA handbook
Edition 2002;
Nice touch to stove flame.


Notebook now finished;
I look back for reflection.
Notebook not finished...

Friday, April 9, 2010

Among the testing of haikus...

Pen ink is empty -
Will refill after long nap;
Nap lasts many years.

Thursday, April 8, 2010


Hi All:


Roses are red;
Violets are blue (except for most Pacific Coast species which are yellow!).
I'm not a poet, and
Neither are you.

I may not be at all a poet, but I like a challenge. Who'd a thunk I would make the only two responses to Margaret's challenge for National Poetry Month?

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Bible Math, a bad poem

Great idea, a poem a day. During "holy week," my most unholy thoughts surface. First, I am reminded of my favorite, tongue in cheek (I think!) poem by Ogden Nash,


My contribution, a kind of venting in preparation for my long-awaited essay, "Religion and Other Sacred Cows," is my first attempt at poetry, one day early:

Adam's Rib = Eve
Serpent = Cain's Dad
Serpent = Satan
Therefore, Cain's Dad = Satan
Family Values = Disobeying God leads to fratricide
Original Sin = Seeking Knowledge in defiance of those who would keep you from it
Original Sin: At least half of Americans believe it's hereditary.
Widely-used parenting and teaching styles in America = still based on previous statement.

If you are inclined to lend credence to any of the above, I recommend you take a look at Matt Gronig's cartoon version of Genesis. He puts no "spin" on the story, he simply illustrates it, and what a horrific story it is.
Happy Easter everybody.

April is Poetry Month

Not unlike Nanowrimo in November, April is about writing one poem a day no matter how bad. Are we up for the challenge? Can a poem land on our blog at least once a day for a month?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Assorted Hostages of Personal Crisis

Lean guy in gray t-shirt. Slumps over an illuminated keyboard. Focused. Silent. Shadows his own face. Coffee half empty. Stubs of cigs just beyond the cup. One stoic, stern, uncompromising, young, straight man in S.F. Totally tech’d out. Head, double-sized by black headphones. Hips, graced by thin white cords. Clothes ragged, stylin’ rips, but the gear, top notch. Beanie over stubble hair. Matching beard stubble darkly up the face. Goatee two inches long. Eyes so direct…don’t look into them unless you are strong--like his nightly retreat to the chaos of the street strong. Escapes made into the glowy ever-light of downtown from dorm boys, dorm noise, dumb dorm norm. 3rd floor, room 324: two 19 year olds fight and cry and fight with the same pissiness every night. Overhead: the ceiling thuds. Throaty voices. Miscued laughter. Perverse giggles. Hip Hop booms. Cigars. Vodka. Texas Tea. No one sleeps, try or not. The lean guy either. Prowling the almost empty streets for hours with a lens as big as his mind. Photos hobos, whores, and other assorted hostages of personal crisis. Mostly older white men, all muted—nowhere near as desperate as the straight, young man in gray t-shirt. He’s losing his grip. Disappointment red raw. His island, nearly worn back into the sea. Who then is he left to be? Solitary man. The city night bursts with multiple plains of empty windows. People and garbage decay on the sidewalks, side by side, no hope alive. Tipsy mannequins display come-ons behind barred up panes of glass. Prissy objectives of the academy—as solid as the fog that daily blocks out the morning sunlight. Nothing desirable to hold on to. Just the terror that turns his guts. Head and heart pound sometimes even in rhythm. That’s never good. Rest helps a lot. The orderly anger of rap sooths. Soaks up tension. With camera and laptop, wifi’ing and shooting. This, a purpose driven life. The purpose: Keep living. Never settle. Occasionally sleep.

Monday, March 29, 2010


Dottie sat side-saddle on the couch, a steaming mug of coffee in her hand and her eyes fixed intently on the ominous thunderhead forming on the far horizon. In the forty odd years of her adult life this ritual was her only haven, her port in the storm as it were, her stay at home existence at it’s happiest. As the decades passed she had made many concessions to accommodate both her fears and responsibilities while she trudged through her life, a stranger within her own skin.

She had always had a passport and, as they each expired, their spines unbroken, their pages bereft of a single stamp, they went into confinement in the bottom drawer of the dining room sideboard along with the maps and the odd travel brochure gathered in haste and ignored in leisure.

Once, when she was thirteen, her family had sent her to visit relatives, flying her out in a driving rain to pass through the ferocity of the storm and land in a verdant, sunny city far, far away.

Uncle Joe and his wife felt the compunction to keep her entertained every minute of every day, dining on exotic foods from distant lands and roaming museums and galleries. On Saturday they went to see the local baseball team play a home game inside a giant building. Dottie had never been inside a building that big, let alone one that housed a baseball field and all its attendant fans. Uncle Joe had waited until she arrived to get tickets and so the only seats left were rather high up in the second balcony leaving the teams to appear no bigger than insects on the green diamond below. However that mattered not one whit to Dottie because those seats put her on eye level with what appeared to her to be the world’s largest television set. She heard the man to her left refer to it as the JumboTron and, while her eyes were roaming its surface, it suddenly burst forth with a flash of video fireworks. Dottie jerked back as though pulled by a rope but her eyes never left the magic screen and she was amazed to see the gigantic head of a man fill the screen as his disembodied voice, booming and echoing throughout the arena, intoned everyone to, “Please stand for the National Anthem…” Had she looked down below she would have seen an ordinary man, partly hidden by a plywood partition, speaking in front of a video camera on a black tripod. But there was no way she could tear her eyes from the deified, massive talking head before her. She had never seen anything remotely like it, even in her dreams.

They feasted on hot dogs and sodas, the other team won by a large margin and then they filed out with the thousands of disenchanted fans into the night.

The next day was Sunday and the three of them traveled up to the University District to attend a sprawling Street Faire. There were jugglers, fire-eaters, falafels, kites, kids, maidens, mugs and musicians. They struggled to keep together in the undulating throng but, inevitably, Dottie lost track of the others and was forced to move along, flotsam on the tide of humanity, until she squeezed herself out of the crowd into a shadowy alcove between two old brick buildings. She turned her back on the wall of flesh and was startled to find herself face to face with a giant of a man with uncombed black hair and piercing hazel eyes. Dressed all in voluminous black silks he played an antique hurdy-gurdy while his companion, a small monkey with a tin cup, hopped from person to person soliciting tips. The music was hypnotic and Dottie’s eyes followed the monkey’s every move. It sported a small, tasseled, maroon fez perched jauntily on its head and wore a heavily brocaded jacket with a stiff collar that stood up so high it almost seemed like a pair of leathery wings rising from its back. Mesmerized, she stood rooted to the spot willing her fear to ebb into fascination.

Eventually she was reunited with her kin and, although they lingered late into the day, nothing filled her thoughts save those moments before the gypsy scoundrel and his simian assistant.

She stayed for nine days, saw much, understood little and then caught the flight home to the Midwest and the life she knew all too well. Often daydreaming of another flight of fancy, she regrettably never again slid out of the gravitational pull of her hometown.

As she grew older she often thought that it had been the storm raging around that departing flight which had given her the impetus to make good her one escape and, although she never spoke of it to a soul, in later years she would drive to the abandoned family farmhouse in the fiercest storms and, sitting in a broken down old kitchen chair, she would cling to the edges of the seat with both hands, clench her teeth, screw her eyes tightly shut and beg the wind gods to spirit her away once more.

Levering herself up off the couch she poured the cold dregs from her cup, slipped on a well worn coat and went off to day thirteen thousand seven hundred and sixty two of her career at the library. She spent the day being helpful and friendly, punched out at five o’clock and shuffled home on auto-pilot to a microwave dinner and two hours of solitude in a hot bath. She made the rounds of the house making sure all the lights were off, slid her ragged red slippers under the bed, crawled under the covers and drifted off dreaming of the surprisingly gentle caress of a tin hand on her shoulder.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Not Gingrich - but handsomer....

Now mating at Table Mountain, a great place to begin your Spring.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

the Declaration of

There is nothing
to miss
from a man who
has not had
the privilege

in the midst of the desk
the bottle, the words
the paint, the wall

a thought crosses
and double crosses

and declares itself
imbedded, like a virus

like a sin

waiting like blank paper
to speak

I am a liar.

Actually,  I'm confused about this.  Isn't there a problem here?  I mean, if this statement is true and I am indeed a liar, then would I not be telling the truth?  And if I'm telling the truth, then that statement must be false. So, if the statement is false, then I am not a liar.  If I'm not a liar, I'm contradicting myself, eh?

I don't know why I'm concerned about this.  I should just go finish my laundry and let it go, but the notion that this statement can be shown to be true if it is false and false if it is true has made me wonder if falsity and truth-ity are just concepts that don't really exist.  That is, maybe it is both true and false at the same time.  If that's the case, then maybe there isn't a false camp separate from a true camp.

We're all just camping together and don't know it.  ?

OK.  Enough.  Laundry time.

P.S. It turns out that the Greek philosopher Eubulides first wrestled with this in the fourth century BC.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Throw Me Something, Mister

Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 5 of my novel that takes place on Mardi Gras day in Mickey’s neighborhood. Uncle Biggy is parading in the neighborhood marching club, Mickey and her friends are watching the parade from the playground.

The music rounding the corner warned us the parade was coming. The big tuba made me forget all about falling down and the steady, marching drum made me jump to my feet and get in step with the rhythm. The whole band swung into a shuffling beat that got us all dancing around. Two steps up and one step back, swaying side to side with each step. Buster snapped his fingers right in time, loud and clear. Charlie's legs shook like rubber and bent so low his behind dragged on the ground until he tripped over his cowboy holster hanging down. My soggy tutu sprayed waterdrops everywhere as I shook my hips in time with the trumpet leading the second line of marchers down the street.

Tommy had already scrambled to the top of the chain link fence, waving and yelling at the marchers to throw him something. We all climbed the fence to grab some beads; this time I swung my leg over the top of the fence and sat there with both hands free so I could catch as many beads as possible.

Sal, the grocery man, was out front strutting like a king; his purple and gold satin suit shimmered straight and tall while his gold painted shoes tapped down the street. His feet kept up with every beat, but his stiff torso seemed to keep the music inside him.

I caught Mr. Sal's eye, he winked, and tossed me a bunch of colored beads that Charlie tried to snatch away, but I yanked them free. Mr. Sal laughed and threw another bunch right at me. It was raining down beads all around us. I even heard some of them clinking on the swing poles in back of us. A glittering gold necklace went sailing over my head, way out of reach, and twisted around the crossbar of the swings.

Some of the marchers were already drunk, stumbling in sloppy circles, their sequined capes swirling in a blur of color. Uncle Biggy was behind the band; I could see him bringing up the rear with the rest of the stragglers who were walking instead of dancing. I hoped he'd saved me some good beads.

"Uncle Biggy, Uncle Biggy," I yelled. "Over here. Throw me something."

Finally he heard me and reached into his shiny, satin bag and scooped out a tangle of colored beads too heavy to throw so he ran to the fence and handed it all up to me. His face was red from laughing so much.

"Hey, Mickey. You sure got the best spot to watch the parade," he chuckled. Then he plucked a yellow paper rose from the bunch wrapped around his cane and tossed it up to me---oh man, only big girls got crepe paper flowers.

"Thanks, Uncle Biggy." I smiled as I stuck the rose into my pile of beads. Maybe he was being nice for yelling at me so much. He had to run to catch up with the parade that was starting to break up as the marchers reached the crowds of family and friends waiting outside the bar. From my perch I could see some of the marchers grabbing women and older girls from the crowd and dancing in the street with them. It seemed very special to get chosen like that in front of everybody.

"Hey Mickey, how are you going to get down with all those beads?" Charlie yelled from the ground. "Toss 'em down to me. I'll hold ‘em for you."

"No, sirree," I shouted back. "You're not getting any of my beads."

I stuck the yellow rose between my teeth and stuffed the whole armful of beads down the front of my leotard which easily stretched to carry the load as I climbed down the fence. On the ground I started to pull out my beads so we could see who caught the most stuff, but I'd forgotten the toilet paper wads stuck in the front of my costume. One of them slipped out in a tangle of beads and fell to the ground like a crumpled white flower.

Buster spied it before I could mash it with my shoe. "Hey, what's that?" he asked, because he really didn't know.

Charlie had older sisters, though, and he knew. "Man, look at this. Mickey's got paper tits."

Even Buster started laughing when he caught on. "Paper tits,” they all chanted.
I was too mad to cry and wanted to yell at them but something deep inside kept me still. Somehow I knew the best way to make them stop was to be quiet.

“Lopsided,” Charlie taunted. “Mickey’s got lopsided tits.”

Tommy laughed so hard he fell down and pulled Charlie with him. “Goddamn paper tits,” Tommy gasped as they rolled around with laughter. Buster jumped on top of them shouting, too.

I stayed silent until they quit laughing and then I just walked away as slow as I could even though my cheeks were trembling. I was half way across the baseball field before I heard Buster say,

“Aw, c’mon back, Mickey. It was just a joke."

But I kept on walking away, with that stillness inside me.

Friday, March 12, 2010

"There is grandeur in this view of life...."

Ariel Gore visit sounds like a winner! I don't want to push that announcement off the front page, so let me just advertise my longest post ever on my blog today, March 12, with the same title as above, a quote from the end of Darwin's "Origin." It, and the day before, is a collection of recent nature photos accompanied by observations and attitudes designed to provoke thought and, hopefully, not put me in danger. blackoaknaturalist Joe Willis

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Ariel Gore coming to speak with us and read to us! Save the date APRIL 14th

Below is her bio lifted from

Ariel Gore has been called the "Indiana Jones" of literature. Born on the Monterey Peninsula and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Ariel Gore spent the years she was supposed to be in high school as an international bag lady traveling through Asia and Europe. She returned to California at age 19, baby in tow. Following her misspent youth, she graduated from Mills College and earned a master's degree in journalism from U.C. Berkeley.

In 1993, she founded Hip Mama, an award-winning parenting zine covering the culture and politics of motherhood. Widely credited with launching maternal feminism, the New Yorker said, "It's the quality of the writing that sets Hip Mama apart."  Ariel's pregnancy and parenting books, The Hip Mama Survival Guide (Hyperion, 1998), The Mother Trip (Seal Press, 2000), and Whatever, Mom (Seal Press, 2004), have been called "delightful" (Glamour), "Terrific and important" (San Francisco Chronicle), and "revolutionary" (The Seattle Times).

Her lyrical teenage memoir, Atlas of the Human Heart (Seal Press, 2003), was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award. The Utne Reader says: "Ariel Gore's transformation from globetrotting teenager to the hippest of mamas reads like a movie script about a Gen-X slacker following her bliss to unlikely success."

Her guide to writing and the creative life, How to Become a Famous Writer Before You're Dead (Three Rivers, 2007) was praised by Booklist as "The snappiest, most useful books a writer for hire is likely to read."

She was named one of "20 Under 30" influential women by Working Woman Magazine and called "conservative Americva's worst nightmare" by San Jose Mercury News. She debated Newt Gingrich on MTV and is a sought-after expert on creativity and women's issues interviewed on NPR and Life & Style as well as CBS, NBC, ABC, CNN, and MTV news.

Ariel's essays, articles, and short stories have appeared in dozens of newspapers, magazines, and periodicals including the San Francisco Chronicle and Examiner, Salon, Parenting, and Utne, as well as in anthologies including Wild Child (Seal Press, 1999), the American Book Award-winning Mothers Who Think (Washington Square Press, 2000), Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation (Seal Press, 2001), Because I Said So (HarperCollins, 2005), Lost On Purpose (Seal press, 2005), and Portland Noir (Akashic Books, 2009).

She will be reading from her latest book, Bluebird: Women and the New Psychology of Happiness, (2010) Farrar Straus Giroux. She currently lives in Portland Oregon with her partner Maria and her son Maximilian.


Ariel will be on campus at FRC April 14th with a craft lecture/workshop on writing and the creative life from 2:30-4 pm. She will be reading from her new book from 5:30-7. Both events will take place in the Gallery on FRC campus and are free to all students, staff, faculty and the general public. Books will be available for purchase through Epilog books. Ariel Gore will be available for book signings as well after the reading. Donations to Feather River College Writing Club are always appreciated to defray costs and raise money for upcoming events.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

"One Thing?"

I couldn't let another week go by without seeing a change in the opening post. Great Writers Group meeting today (pun intended). Met two new people, debated some topics, and, the icing on the cake was being introduced to a new author by Chris. This lady, B. M. (unfortunate initials) Bower, AKA B. M. Sinclair, was not a great writer, but she wrote so many books that I can admire her for that alone. The book Chris had in hand, called "The Lookout Man," was all about experiences on Mt. Hough and vicinity, and, in our library, it's under lock and key due to its age and fragile condition. I will do as Chris did and go to Book Finder. Meanwhile, I checked out a couple of her other books. The one called "Cabin Fever" has one of the best opening lines I've ever read. Not exciting or titillating, but playing directly to one of my biases, that is, an analysis of boredom. "There is a certain malady of the mind induced by too much of one thing." With a title like "Cabin Fever" you can tell where she's going with this. The first few pages were entertaining enough that I'll probably try to finish it. It might turn out to be a letdown, but the opening line will stay with me for a long time - in fact, I just made a blog entry at blackoaknaturalist about it. Why didn't Thoreau get cabin fever? Or did he? Could the Dalai Lama ever get it? Could too many video games cause it? Spending too much time trying to learn the multiplication tables? Attending school? Anyway, as I said in my blog, I've hiked the same trail hundreds of times, but it was actually never the same trail twice.
Thanks, Chris.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

This is a Writer's Blog?

Hi everybody. Don't ya think a writer's blog should have some writing EVERY DAY? February 26 to March 3 - that's almost another week gone by. We have around ten in our group. How about we schedule, starting today, maybe in alphabetical order or something, and each person adds at least a little something to chew on on his/her day. Here's mine: I was researching the etymology of the word "attitude" for an essay on my blog. Found it has the same root as aptitude. In perusing my dictionary in the A's, I came across Attleboro and Asheville, two towns that mean a lot to me. I might get it posted today, but, if not, at least I've done this - plus (Hi, Lance) put in a little plug for my blog. It's blackoaknaturalist. "You are not a gadget." Jaron Lanier.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

HER STORY by Mary-Louise Ruth

By Mary-Louise Ruth

The empty bed seemed to float, her body hardly substantial enough to weight it down. She’d lain untouched for so long she’d forgotten the contours of her own body. Even though she slept with him every night they didn’t touch anymore, only his body seemed to fill up the space, crowding out her sleep. Wakeful, she’d cling to her side, fearful of rolling into him, fearful of falling. Longing replaced dreaming. Was it easier to float than to fall? It must be, she thought, stretching her fingers to touch, then grasp, the cool, soft sheet and felt the bed settle to the floor.

She’d almost forgotten how it used to be, his smell still lingering in the rumpled sheets after their morning screw. Night time lovemaking had always been extended, looping up and over and around again, swooping to shared orgasms; in the morning they’d screw, a quick summary of last night’s languid fuck. He’d usually leave early for work while she’d drift back to sleep, but on Sundays they’d have leisurely mornings in bed. Sunday was the worst morning to wake-up alone.

The sun slipped through the shutters warming up the room, amber stripes slanting across the bed, across her naked body. “I have to get up,” she thought, then wondered why. Why wake up to a long daytime of loneliness even with him in the same room? In fact, lonelier when he was there.

His habit now was to awaken early on Sunday and jog down to CC’s on Magazine St. for cafĂ© au lait with the paper instead of both of them sipping dripped chicory coffee from mugs amidst the Times-Picayune strewn all over their bed. No habits could replace for her the pleasure of his being there, touching him, smelling him, loving him. Talking with him. She’d replaced her loss by drawing down within herself. Into tight corners. Places she knew he couldn’t fit into. She rolled over in bed and slammed one foot on the floor. She wondered if she could fit into those narrow places in herself anymore.

Upright on the side of the bed she thought about her day. Her day. A new thought. Could she make a day her own? Fill up time alone? Would just she, herself alone, fill up a day? The sizzling shower aroused an image of herself beside the lagoon in Audubon Park. Fluorescent pink flamingoes startled by her presence lifting, lifting from the mossy branches to the brilliant blue-white sky. She could get there. Pulling on a tank top and shorts she figured out a route from her house to the lagoon, by the time she’d laced up her Nikes she was almost there.

On the banquette outside their house she decided to avoid CC’s and doubled back a half block to walk down Laurel Street instead. The uneven bricks slowed her down a bit, but now she realized she didn’t have to hurry. She wouldn’t bump into him and have to explain. She’d just be gone.


Thursday, February 18, 2010


Flash fiction submissions, anyone?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

My Filthy Hovel

I must have this place.
A refuge, indecisive, balanced between the skies above,
the worms and stones below.
A fluctuant pile of sticks I arrange anywise,
to house my solace and my memories.
A fort where, from time to time, I can linger like a mute.
A ragged blanket to cover my sins.
A filthy hovel I drag my wounds into.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Happy Birthdays tomorrow

A nice day to remember Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin, their 201st, and Edgar Alan Poe. Something for the student of government, of science, and of American literature. Posting this trivia because we've gone 8 days with a vacuum, besides, I like all three of these guys.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Into The Broken Arms of Morpheus

From an early age Charlene had shared her nights with an endless parade of oddballs and twisted situations. While her friends dreamed about Strawberry Shortcake dolls and ponies, Charlene was caught in the backdraft of a tornado of surreal images. She double dated with gorillas and wandered through unfamiliar mansions clothed as a crone or Howdy Doody. She had spent countless hours pondering the meaning of a lengthy dream in which she, possibly as someone else, rode in an antique convertible down streets lined with animated jellybeans in a town populated by her ancestors; Grand Marshall of a parade traveling those vague side streets of the brain.

In her teen years Charlene tried desperately to grasp the meaning of her somnolent visitations. Like other girls of her age she dreamed dreams of teen heartthrobs. But why then, when she dreamed of Shaun Cassidy, was he a harpsichord virtuoso with green hair and six fingers on each hand? Was polydactylism an unexplored turn-on for her?

Charlene was at a loss. Short of actual couch time (she had enough people in her head already, thank you…) she probed and pondered every avenue of explanation. She read Freud which ruined a perfectly good relationship with her mother. She thumbed through countless dreambooks in the checkout lines and voraciously read every horoscope that crossed her path. She even sought out Madame ZaVirre and had the dark cards tossed before her. Stymied by the lay of the deck, Madame Z. muttered incomprehensibly, traced numerous ritual patterns with her finger on the cloth covered table and, after examining Charlene’s palms for unusual birthmarks, sent her on her way without charge.

Finally, in her 29th year, Charlene threw in the towel. Let the night do it’s worst. She would let the Daliesque waves wash over her like warm Caribbean waters. Not another garbled conversation would she jot down, not another errant image would grace her desk blotter while she doodled her way through a phone call. That night she stood at the bedside in her oversized tee-shirt, raised her arms high and loudly proclaimed, “Bring on the night. I no longer care. Give it your best shot!”

That, of course, was all that it took. Like a classic fairytale (well, okay, in Charlene’s case it was more like a fable with a talking inchworm…) she was asleep in moments and, almost immediately, Morpheus appeared to her and explained all in a few short sentences.

You see, throughout history the gods picked one person into whose sleep was imported all the interrupted dreams of others. In San Francisco a candidate for gender reassignment is awakened by a car alarm… In Oklahoma a librarian’s reveries are cut short by her cat’s need for attention… the balance of their dreams would shift directly onto Charlene’s pillow and into her slumbers. Suddenly it all made sense. And just as suddenly she no longer fretted. Their meanings, arcane as they may be, were clear and undisturbing. Her dreams became no more relevant than scenery that whizzes by the car window at sixty mile an hour; the blur of a picket fence without meaning.

Charlene never shared this with others and, even when she married later in life, she would occasionally share her dreams with her husband but never give a clue as to the deus ex machina running the show from behind the curtain.

Through all the years of her life Charlene wore the mantle of responsibility with a certain pride and an understanding that she was part of something much greater than herself.